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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Aug
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Hidden Legacy Series Book: Wildfire Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hidden Legacy #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Wildfire Listening to Wildfire is my “re-read” of one of my favorite books of 2017. To recap: the book opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous one, with fears that Nevada’s paternal grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, has located the Baylors and wants to take the girls away to become part of her own House. Additionally, we discover that, Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancee and daughter of Olivia Charles (antagonist from book 2), wants to hire Nevada because her husband is missing. Add to it the budding romance between Rogan and Nevada, a huge conspiracy to overthrow the existing government, and some crazy family issues, and you’ve got an amazing story! As with my audiobook review of White Hot (book 2), there isn’t much more I can add about Wildfire that I didn’t say in my original review. From that review: “The relationship of Rogan and Nevada continues to evolve, intensify, and mature. I adore their journey. Individually, each is learning how to adjust their own behaviors to better fit as a couple, while simultaneously working to accept the other’s idiosyncrasies and persona.” “Wildfire is a wonderful story in an amazing series. The authors have taken incredible care to create a whole set of characters beyond just the hero and heroine. I have become attached to each member of Baylor clan, and I adore that every character has purpose, each with their own story. While the action is intense, the emotional depth takes this story and series from great to amazing. I highly recommend reading the entire three-book Hidden Legacy series from the beginning.” As I have stated numerous times, the addition of Renee Raudman’s narration takes any book up a notch. By now, her unique and separate voices for each character have become so familiar to me, and listening to her read the story is a comfort, like hearing my mom’s voice on the phone after not talking for a while. But more than the voices, it’s the emotion she puts behind every performance that blows me away. From anger to fear, from joy to sorrow, I feel the power of her performance deep inside my heart. She takes the already amazing characters and makes them real. Wildfire is simply amazing and one of my favorite...
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Aug
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Hidden Legacy Series Book: White Hot Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Hidden Legacy #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased White Hot Listening to the audiobook of White Hot is a “reread” for me. I reviewed the book in May 2017, and my review still stands as I originally wrote it. Here is an excerpt from my original review: “The overall and book-specific stories are both equally engrossing. The layers and complexity make the book fascinating rather than confusing. The conspiracy and plot are smart and interesting. The action is solid and edge-of-your seat. “The romance between Nevada and the little understood Rogan also blossomed during White Hot. Rogan continued his relentless pursuit, but also opened up to Nevada, realizing she can match him. She may not be his equal, and he sometimes does things to “protect” her which only frustrated her, but he’s learning how to allow her to make her own decisions. There are many hurdles to jump, and I really want them to make it.” By listening to the book, I picked up plot nuances that I missed when reading the book the first time. However, It is Renée Raudman’s performance that makes the story so much more. While the writing team of Ilona Andrews is an amazing storyteller in its own right, Ms. Raudman adds so much feeling and emotion to their stories that I can’t help but get choked up every time I listen to one their books. She breathes life into these amazing characters and tales, making them ones I would listen to again and again. She takes an A book and makes it an A+. In the end, White Hot is an amazing, entertaining story, and coupled with Ms. Raudman’s talent, the book is unforgettable. My Rating: A+ Narration: A+ About the Book: Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan. Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally...
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Aug
9

Review: The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost The Sweetest Burn Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: The Sweetest Burn is the long awaited second novel in the Broken Destiny series. Gikany and Una liked this second novel, as Adrian seemed to improve while the plot thickened.  Though Ivy tended to be hot and cold, she preservers through her waffling to the save the day. It could be that Gikany and Una are just older than the target audience or just more self-secure, but the foibles we perceive in Ivy and Adrian are definitely what we would consider immaturity.  Though Adrian is over a hundred years old, his over protectiveness leads him to make decisions for Ivy and himself without Ivy having a more equal say (or at times any say).  We felt that Adrian reminded us of Edward from the Twilight series, and not necessarily in the good way.  The old-fashioned high handedness is irritating for both Ivy and us.  But in Adrian’s defense, he does try… he truly does but sometimes love leads us down a well-intentioned but dangerously overprotective path. The quest for the staff was fraught with danger and overshadowed with betrayal.  We were intrigued by the journey that was required.  Through this second novel we learned more about the Archon, Zach.  He is becoming our more favorite secondary character next to Brutus, the gargoyle (whose secret identity is a seagull, trust us, it’s an awesome touch). The rules he follows and the seemingly irritating omissions are actually purposeful and necessary. We are enjoying this trilogy as it unfolds.  Though we do see some growth in our main characters, they do waffle a bit as it goes (the cha-cha of maturity).  With the foreshadowing of the epilogue, we are intrigued as to what will happen next. Thankfully, the last novel in this trilogy comes out in November. Please stay tuned for our review! Our Rating:  B Liked it About the Book: The breathtaking second novel in New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Broken Destiny series finds Ivy and Adrian rekindling their alliance – and passion – as the struggle for the fate of the world begins… Conquering a supernatural realm turned out to be easier than getting over a broken heart.  But her initial victory has made Ivy a target for revenge, forcing her to reunite with the dangerous – and dangerously sexy—Adrian.  Ivy isn’t sure which will be harder: finding the hallowed weapon that...
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Aug
8

Review: Urban Enemies Anthology

Review: Urban Enemies Anthology Urban Enemies Author: Edited by Joseph Nassise (authors listed below) Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: “Even Hand” by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) This story is shared from Dresden’s long-time nemesis, John Marcone. Justine shows up with a baby and asks for sanctuary from Mag, a powerful fomor wizard. Marcone isn’t one for making bad business decisions, but takes Justine in because one of Marcone’s rules is no harm to children. Mag is extremely determined to get back Justine and brings all his power to bear down on Marcone, Gard, and Hendricks. While the tale doesn’t directly tie into the overall Dresden story arc, it gives great insight into the warped mind of Marcone, reminding readers he isn’t anybody’s hero. I love he remains the bad guy, even when saving Justine. And his plans for Dresden left me shivering. “Hounded” by Kelly Armstrong (Cainsville series) Never having read this series, Ms. Armstrong does a great job giving readers just enough information to understand the short without going into the entire series background and history. The Cwn Annwn are the Hunters of the Wild Hunt. “Hounded” follows one Huntsman whose hound was taken from him and was cut from his pack for reasons we discover as the story unfolds. Unlike the previous story, where a bad guy does a good deed, this Huntsman is not good, and we witness how he corrupts a woman, bending her will to suit his needs. Very well done and a bit creepy! “Nigsu Ga Tesgu” by Jeff Somers (Ustari Cycle story) Once again, the author does a great job giving readers a blurb about the world and antagonist featured in this anthology. Mika Renar is a magician, and she is one of the most powerful and dark ustari in the world. The first line in the story tells us she killed her father, and thus starts our lesson of how wicked magicians truly are. Told in first person, present tense, “Nigsu Ga Tesgu” shares an attack meant to destroy Mika. While I had no problems following the storyline, I found that it held little interest for me. Maybe if I knew more about Mari, I would have been more invested in her survival. However, she is an evil, selfish woman, one I didn’t care about. “Sixty-Six Seconds” by Craig Schaefer (This story contains characters from two interconnected series: Harmony Black and Daniel Faust.) Fontaine and his new apprentice, Rache, work for hell...
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Aug
2

Review: Strangehold by Rene Sears

Review: Strangehold by Rene Sears Strangehold Author: Rene Sears Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Strangehold is a fascinating series debut.  I enjoyed this introduction to a world of witches and Faerie and look forward to more. Let me say first that this novella could have been a full novel.  There is such a rich world with fascinating characters and politics, some elements could have been stretched out a bit in the storytelling.  That being said, the story wasn’t lacking despite its shorter length.  In fact, I’d say the book had a succinct feeling – the story flowed and conveyed the twists and turns without a lot of embellishment.  I enjoyed Ms. Sears’s writing style and felt that it was a refreshing narration. The story is predominately told from Morgan Tenpenny’s point of view.  Morgan is a witch who lives as a guardian of one of the gates between the mortal world and Faerie.  For the last half century, there is a treaty in place between the Fae and the witches – but it seems that someone is trying to destroy that.  Morgan discovers what appears to be a sickness killing witches while investigating why the gates have all been closed; she befriends a cursed fae, Falcon.  As the two team up to stop the sickness and open the gates, we learn much of the world and the politics. Again, the world is fascinating and I really enjoyed the mythology.  The little bit of romantic plot thread between Falcon and Morgan was an intriguing touch as well.  I look forward to learning more about Falcon, the connection between him and Morgan, and seeing if this romance blossoms (I just love slow burn romances!).  The creation and existence of the Strangehold realm is fascinating as well.  I hope we will see more of it in the future novels.  Though the “evil” is thwarted at the end, there are still some plot lines unresolved.  I eagerly look forward to seeing what happens next for Morgan’s sister, her nieces, and the treaty between mortals and Faerie. Strangehold is a captivating and straightforward debut novella in the Crossroads of Worlds series.  I liked Morgan’s character and look forward to seeing what happens next for her family and Falcon.  The mythology was intriguing as was the balance of power between witches and Fae.  I eagerly look forward to the next novel in the series. Our Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Morgan Tenpenny has retreated...
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Jul
27

Review: Gods and Ends by Devon Monk

Review: Gods and Ends by Devon Monk Gods and Ends Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una are delighted that there will be more in this world.  Especially since the subsequent novellas or novels will have a different viewpoint.  We really liked this final novel from Delaney’s perspective. Since this is the third book in this series, we can confidently say we like Delaney.  Her heart is always in the right spot – she loves her town, her family, and especially the gods and monsters that call it home.  However, she is far too impulsive; something that is especially shown in Gods and Ends.  The plot wove itself nicely, but Delaney needed to slow down and think before she jumped.  Although some of these decisions cost her greatly, she never regretted her decisions.  It was touching to see how much the gods and monsters care for her and her family. In our previous reviews you will note that Ryder was not our choice for Delaney.  Despite their lackluster romance in this novel, Ryder did move up in our opinion.  We still think he has much to make up for, but their happily-for-now was satisfying.  Ryder’s care and concern for Delaney was better illustrated in this novel.  We also enjoyed watching how Ryder is paying for not heeding Delaney’s warnings in the previous book.  It was a bit endearing, as it seemed Ryder was chagrined about the price he is paying for being Mithra’s warden. What keeps us gripped by this the story is the mythology.  We love the idea of a place where gods vacation and monsters live in harmony.  The relationship of Delaney to the some particular gods and monsters is heartwarmingly unique and quirky.  We especially loved Death and we hope to see more of him in the upcoming stories.  We truly enjoyed watching the wolves and vampires come together for their own.  Instead of fighting and tearing two lovers apart, the two groups came together to support and aid the lovers.  It was truly captivating and heartwarming.  We hope to see more of these families as well. Ordinary Magic is a unique and imaginative mythology that we absolutely enjoy.  This final installment in Delaney’s story was our favorite of the three books; although we still think that Delaney could do better than Ryder.  We are very happy that this is not the end.  Like the gods in this story, we eagerly look forward to...
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Jul
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: By Familiar Means by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: By Familiar Means by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries By Familiar Means Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio By Familiar Means is another delightful read in the Witch’s Mystery Cat series.  I enjoyed the continuing journey of Anna as she learns more about her heritage, her abilities and the community of Portsmouth. The novel begins a few weeks after the conclusion of the previous novel, A Familiar Tail.  Anna is settling into the house she is renting along with the coven of Portsmouth.  She is excited that her Grandma BB is coming to visit her.  What makes this so momentous is that her Grandma hasn’t been back to her home town since she left during a town-wide feud.  As Anna is looking forward to this visit, she is also looking forward to a new job painting murals at a new coffee shop in town. However, as things did in the previous book, things do not quite go as Anna anticipates. I love how much Grandma BB brought to the humor and character development of Anna.  It was fascinating to watch old wounds begin to heal and people come together.  Anna has a truly unique group of friends around her in Portsmouth.  I especially enjoyed seeing that Alastair has friends of his own as well.  The little bit of romantic thread that is developing is also a delightful side element to the overall story.  I’m really enjoying following Anna. She is a caring and vibrant character and I look forward to watching her grow in Portsmouth. Though like the previous novel, the “who” of the “who-dun-it” was simple to figure out, there were other twists that added to the revealing of motive and such.  I really enjoyed how Anna investigated this one; not quite as reckless as before, but just as impulsive.  It was interesting that the magic can and does seem to affect Anna, possibly increasing her impulsiveness.  There are several different threads being woven nicely together; the mystery, the family/friends drama, the romance, and Anna’s own growth in her heritage.  I find this series absolutely enchanting and enjoyable.  I now understand the term cozy mystery.  Again, it’s something I can enjoy without worrying about my kids listening with me in the car. I enjoyed Ms. Arsenault’s performance a little more this time around.  It could be...
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Jul
26

Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine Ash and Quill Author: Rachel Caine Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Rachel Caine has done it again!  Ash and Quill is another outstanding novel in The Great Library series.  Gikany and Una found themselves lost in the world and utterly gripped by the cliffhanger ending.  We eagerly await the next installment. This story immediately begins where our heroes were last left.  Betrayed by Jess’s father, the band of library rebels are in the hands of the Burners in Philadelphia – the heart of a Burner stronghold under siege by the Library’s forces.  Despite the hopelessness of their situation, they never give up.  It is compelling to see how each one is willing to sacrifice for the others.  It is as Khalila says – they are a family.  This family seeks to right the Great Library by removing the Artifex Magnus, the leader of the Great Library. Once freed from the clutches of the Burners, Jess and his friends find themselves in another conflict.  They truly illustrate the old adage, out of the frying pan and into the fire.  From the beginning we have always feared for the survival of this group.  So far, fate has smiled upon them, but we fear that once all is said and done some beloved heroes may be lost.  In all great stories in history drastic change requires the ultimate sacrifice. This world and these characters completely suck you in.  The mythology, the premise, and the personalities of the characters are all enchanting and they truly come alive. 5Gikany and Una are completely hooked on this series and we cannot wait until the next installment is out.  If you want to read something truly unique, gripping, and intricately woven with politics, action/adventure, and heart, you seriously should pick up this series. Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Words can kill. Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny… Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule. Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the...
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Jul
25

Review: A Kiss Before Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton

Review: A Kiss Before Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton A Kiss Before Doomsday Author: Laurence MacNaughton Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: A Kiss Before Doomsday is the same fun, campy energy that we found in the first book, It Happened One Doomsday.  The world that MacNaughton built in the first book, takes off now that we know the rules.  He takes his characters and runs with them, building on the story of the first book (definitely read these in order) and creating something bigger. I love that main character Dru continues to be genuine.  She really does want to help people, especially those she loves, and although she’s a crystal sorceress and hangs out with some very unusual people, she’s somehow entirely relatable. For as frail as she sometimes seems, especially in comparison to other characters, MacNaughton did a very good job of making her both vulnerable and strong—she both saves and gets rescued.  She and love interest Greyson balance each other well. I appreciated that making him strong did not require Dru to be weak nor did making Dru shine require that Greyson be less masculine. Although Dru and Greyson are clearly in love, the only romantic action in this read is a kiss at the end.  MacNaughton inserts a surprising, if unnecessary, scene that will at least make female readers chuckle. It was entertaining in the same way watching Carrie Bradshaw pack up her closet was on Sex in the City.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo3vHKimpi4 There is a sarcasm that I enjoyed, comedic in the same way Pirates of the Caribbean walks the line between conceivable and hokey, staying this side of believable.  Gore Verbinski should direct the movie.  It’s a world where lines make sense like, “She already ate half the box [of donuts].  Then she went out for smoothies. Said she’d burned too many calories in the cannonball fight.” Chapters are short and keep the action moving which makes for a relatively fast read despite the plot depth which is still present. I have to knock a few points down for one or two parts that may come off as predictable to regular sci/fi readers.  It makes the mental movie easy to visualize. There are no real secondary plots which keeps the focus tight.  Good read and I’m looking forward to the next one. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: When an undead motorcycle gang attacks Denver’s sorcerers, only one person can decipher the cryptic clues left behind—Dru Jasper, proprietor of...
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Jul
24

Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Review: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews Wildfire Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Wildfire opens immediately after the conclusion of the previous book, White Hot. Rogan and Nevada return from their mini-vacation to tell her family about Victoria Tremaine trying to buy out their company. However, when Rogan and Nevada arrive, Rynda Charles, Rogan’s ex-fiancee (arranged marriage when he was three) and daughter of Olivia Charles (the baddie from book 2) is waiting for the pair. Her husband is missing, and no one will help her because of her mother’s disgrace. Nevada takes the case, starting the next round in the ongoing war with the unknown group of Primes looking to cause chaos in Houston. This book is not a standalone and should only be read following the first two books in the series. While billed as a romance, Wildfire is much, much more, and I would argue that the romance is not the primary aspect of the book and series (which is why I label it urban fantasy). With that said, the relationship of Rogan and Nevada continues to evolve, intensify, and mature. I adore their journey. Individually, each is learning how to adjust their own behaviors to better fit as a couple, while simultaneously working to accept the other’s idiosyncrasies and persona. I LOVE how they take turns helping each other get past emotionally difficult places. This time around, Rogan lets Nevada rage and then tells her he loves her and together they will make it. Other times she’s doing the same for him. It goes far to create such three-dimensional, likable characters. There are three major, overarching storylines which are furthered during the telling of Wildfire. First, we finally meet and learn much more about Nevada’s paternal grandmother, Victoria. The authors wow’d me with this character who appears to be both bad and good. I felt like I was on a roller coaster as Nevada experiences a range of emotions, learning more about Victoria. Closely related this is Nevada and the Baylor family’s decision to become a House. The motivation behind the move is protection from Victoria, and as we learn more about her, I can see why this course of action, no matter the risks, is probably for the best. I was so worried during the entire process that something would go wrong – whether intentionally or coincidentally, and without giving spoilers, I will say, the entire journey was well-written and thrilling. Additionally, Nevada and Rogan...
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